September 26, 2016
Members of the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference on Monday called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would crack down on some short-term Airbnb rentals and pushed for additional legislation to further regulate the company.
State Sens. Jeff Klein and Diane Savino joined the Democratic nominee for the 31st district
Marisol Alcantara, whose campaign has been backed by the IDC and Hotel Trades Council, to present a report highlighting 110 Airbnb rentals across the city that advertised accommodations for more than 13 guests.
Many of the rentals advertising for 14 or more guests, Klein said, were in violation of state and city housing codes, with multiple beds placed in living rooms and laundry rooms. The bill on Cuomo’s desk would crack down on some of these rentals, imposing steep fines on hosts who advertise listings in multifamily buildings for 30 days or less where the host would not be present.
“We established hotel regulations because we felt it was in the interest of New Yorkers and those who came to visit that we had a set of standards. We thought it was important for our firefighters so that when they went into a fire, they had some idea of what they were walking into,” Savino said.
Airbnb, Savino said, violates those standards and regulations. “They say they can’t control and they can’t police their own site,” she said. “We don’t believe that.”
Alcantara echoed Savino in her remarks.
“If nail salons, restaurants and barbershops, if they can play by the rules, what message are we sending when Airbnb feels that they don’t have to play by the rules?” Alcantara said. “Whether you are rich or poor, you need to play by the rules.”
In addition to passing the legislation currently on Cuomo’s desk, Savino, Klein and Alcantara said they want legislation that would regulate Airbnb even further, including a law that would require Airbnb to closely police listings by checking in on building code violations and touching base with the police department about how many 911 calls had been made from an apartment.
“I think they have an affirmative duty to know who is actually posting on sites on their website,” Klein said. “This is not too much to ask of Airbnb that they find out from the local buildings department if that site is in violation of a fire code or any other building regulations.”
Additionally, Klein said, the IDC will propose legislation that would ban one and two family homes, which are currently exempt from the law, from short-term rentals.
Airbnb spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said in a statement Monday that “the overwhelming majority” of Airbnb hosts in New York share their homes as a way to make extra money and keep up with the cost of living in the city.
“We are eager to work with lawmakers, including the IDC, to find a sensible solution that will allow New Yorkers to responsibly share their primary home and crack down on commercial operators,” Schottenfels said.